Canucks crown Kings, move closer to clinching playoff spot

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack battles the Los Angels Kings Tyler Toffoli in NHL action at Rogers Arena on Monday night.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack battles the Los Angels Kings Tyler Toffoli in NHL action at Rogers Arena on Monday night.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks made a point in addition to earning two very big ones in the standings on Monday night.

The Canucks came from behind to beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in a shootout in what was a wildly entertaining game, delighting a sellout crowd at Rogers Arena that can taste the playoffs.

The Canucks have not clinched a spot in the NHL’s post-season party, but a lot of things would have to go wrong for them to miss now.

Vancouver, second in the Pacific Division with 97 points, now lead both the Calgary Flames and Kings by four points. Los Angeles and Calgary both have a game in hand.

The Canucks close out their season with home games Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes and Saturday night versus the Edmonton Oilers.

There were lots of people suggesting not so long ago that the Canucks could not compete with the Kings. Well, Vancouver has now beaten Los Angeles twice in the last two weeks.

That’s something worth storing the memory bank as they head to the playoffs.

“People say that we don’t match up well against these guys, but I think we match up well against any team,” said defenceman Kevin Bieksa. “This is a different style of game than say a Chicago. It is a hard-against-the-walls, high-percentage play, they like to throw pucks in and grind you down low. You’re going to have weather some storms and deal with some of these big bodies. But we battled hard and I think we played more of our style of game for the majority of the game than theirs, which is good.”

Daniel Sedin tied the game at 9:54 of the third period, beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick glove side from the left faceoff dot after a brilliant no-look pass from brother Henrik Sedin. The goal was Daniel’s 18th of the season. Henrik’s assist was his 700th in the NHL.

“It was one of those plays where I think they (the Kings) are tired,” said Henrik. “I know he is going to be there. I don’t know if he is covered or not, but he was open and he hit it top shelf. It was a huge goal for us.”

Chris Higgins scored the only goal in the shootout as Eddie Lack stopped Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.

Lack and Quick were both brilliant in a game where Vancouver had a 38-37 edge in shots.

Lack, who was named the game’s first star and left the ice to chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,” said the Canucks can not afford to think they have assured themselves a spot in the playoffs.

“It’s really close but we have a job to do here on Thursday,” Lack said. “These are the kinds of teams we have been having difficulty with. We have to be really on top of our toes and . . .grind it out again.”

After almost scoring on their first shot of the game, the Kings made it 1-0 on their second when Dwight King beat Chris Tanev to the front of the net and tipped a Jeff Carter pass past Lack at the 1:13 mark of the first.

The Kings had considerably more jump to start the game, but the Canucks found their legs and had some chances of their own.

Jannik Hansen shot wide after a terrible giveaway by Kings winger Justin Williams at the seven-minute mark and a couple of minutes later Bo Horvat tested Quick from the left circle after a pass from Hansen.

Shots were 15-14 in favour of the Kings in what was a wide-open first period.

The Canucks had the momentum for much of what was a scoreless second period. Quick once again was forced to make some big saves. He also got some help from one of his posts. Defenceman Yannick Weber had Quick beat with a backhand on a two-on-one rush with Daniel Sedin at the 17:40 mark but his shot went off the left post.

Earlier, Quick had stopped Alex Burrows from in close and then made a great save on Ronald Kenins off a two-on-one rush with Hansen.

Lack was solid as well. His best save in the second period came off Kopitar on a two-on-one rush with Gaborik.

“Before the game I was thinking that this is one of those games you work for all summer,” Lack said. “I wanted to be sharp and we won.”

ICE CHIPS: Vancouver made one lineup change, as winger Ronalds Kenins replaced Sven Baertschi on a line with Horvat and Hansen. . .Tuesday is scheduled to be a day off for the Canucks, who will practise on Wednesday before facing the Coyotes on Thursday night.

GAME ESSENTIALS

THE SKINNY

The Kings didn’t need much time to take the lead as Dwight King converted Jeff Carter’s goalmouth pass at 1:13 of the opening period. The second period was scoreless and Daniel Sedin tied it at 9:54 of the third, roofing one far side after a lovely pass from Henrik, to send the game to overtime and a shooutout. Chris Higgins netted the lone shootout goal while Eddie Lack stopped all three Kings.

TURNING POINT

With Kings goalie Jonathan Quick on his game and seemingly on his way to his seventh shutout of the season, the Sedin twins pulled out some old-fashioned “Sedin-ery” and Henrik threw a no-look, behind-the-back pass to brother Daniel, who stepped into it and drilled the puck top-shelf farside to pull the Canucks even at 1-1, the goal coming at 9:54 of the third period, and ensured the Canucks of at least one point. They got two.

BY THE NUMBERS

Henrik Sedin’s third-period assist was the 700th of his career … The Canucks gave up the game’s first goal for the seventh time in their last eight and the 46th time this season … The Kings scored first for the 41st time this season but fell to 27-5- 9 when ahead after 20 minutes. They also fell to 27-3-5 when leading after 40 minutes ... The Canucks finished their season series against the Kings at 2-3-0.

QUOTABLE

“At the start of the year, I thought 97 points would get us in but it’s nice that we have two more games that we can do something with. It’s a lot of points but there is a lot of balance in the league. No, I can’t sense the playoffs, not yet.” — Canuck head coach Willie Desjardins following his team’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Kings.

WHO’S NEXT?

The Canucks continue their final homestand of the regular season on Thursday as the Arizona Coyotes, in the thick of the Connor McDavid derby with the Buffalo Sabres, pay their third visit to Rogers Arena. The first two games were blowouts, one for each team, as the Shane Doan-led Coyotes won 5-0 on Nov. 14 and the Canucks returned the favour 7-1 on Dec. 22. Overall, the Canucks are 2-1-1 against Arizona this season.

— Elliott Pap, The Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack battles the Los Angels Kings Tyler Toffoli in NHL action at Rogers Arena on Monday night.
 

Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack battles the Los Angels Kings Tyler Toffoli in NHL action at Rogers Arena on Monday night.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

 
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack battles the Los Angels Kings Tyler Toffoli in NHL action at Rogers Arena on Monday night.
Vancouver Canucks' Derek Dorsett, 51, is taken down behind the Los Angels Kings net by Jonathan Quick, 32.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack celebrates his first star of the night in the shoot out against the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack makes final save of the night in the shoot out against the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks' Chris Higgins scores the shoot out winner against the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks mob goalie Eddie Lack as they celebrate their shoot-out win over the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Eddie Lack makes final save of the night in the shoot out against the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks' Chris Higgins scores the shoot out winner.
Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin, 33, has his helmet knocked off as he battles the Los Angels Kings Jake Muzzin,6.
Vancouver Canucks' Kevin Bieksa celebrates Daniel Sedin's  tying goal as Canucks battle the Los Angels Kings.
Vancouver Canucks mob goalie Eddie Lack as they celebrate their shoot-out win over the Los Angels Kings.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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